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Nuon Chea Fit To Stand Trial, Judges Say

Khmer Rouge "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea attends a public hearing at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, October 19, 2011.

The Trial Chamber of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal said Wednesday that jailed regime leader Nuon Chea is fit to stand trial, in proceedings set to begin Nov. 21.

Nuon Chea, the chief ideologue of the regime, and other aging leaders have undergone a series of examinations to determine their physical and mental wellbeing.

He will be tried for atrocity crimes alongside Khieu Samphan, the former nominal head of the movement, and Ieng Sary, its foreign minister. The court has yet to determine whether Ieng Thirith, the social affairs minister, who suffers mental health problems, will also stand trial.

Medical examiners performed tests of Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, but Khieu Samphan declined to be examined. They presented their findings to the court last month.

Nuon Chea suffers from a number of health problems, including in his cardiovascular system, but his lawyers say he is healthy enough for the court.

“My client is only old, be he sill has his memory and he can respond to questions,” one Cambodian lawyer said Wednesday, adding the defense team was “ready for Nov. 21.”

The trial of Nuon Chea and the other leaders will be the largest, most complicated to date for the UN-backed court.